Vega-C rocket forced to self-destruct with two satellites on board

A Vega-C rocket lifts off from the launch pad at Kourou Space Base, French Guiana, Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

A Vega-C rocket lifts off from the launch pad at Kourou Space Base, French Guiana, December 21, 2022.
picture: GM Guillon (AP)

Arianespace’s Vega-C medium-lift rocket It fails to reach orbit on its second mission, destroying the two satellites on board.

The rocket, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), manufactured by the Italian company Avio, and operated by Arianespace, took off Tuesday at 8:47 p.m. ET from the Kourou space base in French Guiana, carrying Airbus’ Neo 5 and Neo 6 satellites. Pleiades Neo constellation depicting earth.

The first stage of the rocket successfully separated from the second stage, but shortly thereafter a problem occurred. About 2 minutes and 27 seconds after liftoff, the rocket’s second stage, named Zefiro 40, experienced a catastrophic anomaly, Arianespace announce on Twitter.

“After the nominal ignition of the second stage engine (Zefiro 40) approximately 144 seconds after liftoff, a pressure drop was observed, which led to an early end to the mission,” Arianespace wrote in a message. statment.

“After this low pressure, we noticed trajectory drift and very strong anomalies, so unfortunately we can say the mission is lost,” Stefan Israel, CEO of Arianespace, said in the launch webcast. mentioned by SpaceNews. According to standard procedure, the missile was ordered to self-destruct.

The onboard satellites were intended to complete a satellite constellation of six satellites, providing high-resolution images of the Earth.

Arianespace and ESA have appointed an independent investigative committee to analyze the cause of the rocket failure and determine what needs to be done before Vega-C resumes flights, according to Arianespace. statment.

The Vega-C launch was originally scheduled for November 24, but the mission was delayed due to an equipment malfunction in the payload separation system. The launch system didn’t have the best track record, with the latest accident marking the third time a Vega rocket has failed the mission in its last eight liftoffs. depending to the BBC. In November 2020, the Vega rocket failed eight minutes into the mission, as a result of human error.

More on this story: The failure of the Vega missile appears to have been caused by human error

It’s a disappointing follow-up Vega-C debuts this summer. On July 13, Vega-C successfully completed its inaugural flight, delivering the Italian Space Agency’s LARES-2 into orbit as its primary payload. Vega-C is a more powerful successor to the Vega player, which has been in the works for 10 years. The Vega-C is equipped with a more powerful first and second stage, along with an improved re-ignitable upper stage.

Tuesday’s mission marked the first time Vega-C has carried a commercial payload, so it’s unfortunate that the mission ended in failure. The European Space Agency relies on the Vega-C to deliver European payloads into orbit and maintain a presence in the growing space industry by virtue of having its own launch vehicle.

The European Space Agency is also preparing to launch Ariane 6, the next-generation launcher that follows Ariane 5. The Ariane 6 launch was originally scheduled for 2020, but has suffered numerous delays, and is now scheduled to fly in 2023. Daniel Nwenschwande, director of space transportation at the European Space Agency, said in a statement. statment in June.

Hopefully, ESA can recover from the mission failure and get Vega-C back on track.

more: We can’t wait for these futuristic missiles to explode

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